Apigenin and naringenin suppress colon carcinogenesis through the aberrant crypt stage in azoxymethane-treated rats. Academic Article uri icon


  • Epidemiological evidence suggests that a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables may protect against colon cancer. Bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and limonoids, have been shown to possess antiproliferative and antitumorigenic effects in various cancer models. This experiment investigated the effects of four citrus flavonoids and one limonoid mixture at the promotion stage of chemically induced colon cancer in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 10 rats/group) were randomly allocated to one of six diets formulated to contain 0.1% apigenin, 0.02% naringenin, 0.1% hesperidin, 0.01% nobiletin, 0.035% limonin glucoside/obacunone glucoside mixture or a control diet (0% flavonoid/limonoid). Rats received experimental diets for 10 weeks and were injected with azoxymethane (15 mg/kg) at weeks 3 and 4. Excised colons were evaluated for aberrant crypt foci (ACF) formation, colonocyte proliferation (proliferating cell nuclear antigen assay), apoptosis (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling assay) and expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (immunoblotting). When compared with the control diet, apigenin lowered the number of high multiplicity ACF (HMACF >4 aberrant crypts/focus) by 57% (P < 0.05), while naringenin lowered both the number of HMACF by 51% (P < 0.05) and the proliferative index by 32% (P < 0.05). Both apigenin and naringenin increased apoptosis of luminal surface colonocytes (78% and 97%, respectively; P < 0.05) when compared with the control diet. Hesperidin, nobiletin and the limonin glucoside/obacunone glucoside mixture did not affect these variables. The colonic mucosal protein levels of iNOS or COX-2 were not different among the six diet groups. The ability of dietary apigenin and naringenin to reduce HMACF, lower proliferation (naringenin only) and increase apoptosis may contribute toward colon cancer prevention. However, these effects were not due to mitigation of iNOS and COX-2 protein levels at the ACF stage of colon cancer.

published proceedings

  • Exp Biol Med (Maywood)

altmetric score

  • 20

author list (cited authors)

  • Leonardi, T., Vanamala, J., Taddeo, S. S., Davidson, L. A., Murphy, M. E., Patil, B. S., ... Turner, N. D.

citation count

  • 102

complete list of authors

  • Leonardi, Tety||Vanamala, Jairam||Taddeo, Stella S||Davidson, Laurie A||Murphy, Mary E||Patil, Bhimanagouda S||Wang, Naisyin||Carroll, Raymond J||Chapkin, Robert S||Lupton, Joanne R||Turner, Nancy D

publication date

  • June 2010